After working for many companies and on countless projects, I have yet to see anyone dropping in unannounced to the Chief Financial Officer’s office with ideas on how to spruce up the next quarterly P&L statement. In the meantime, there seems to be no lock strong enough on a CMO’s door to hold back the constant inflow of feedback on everything marketing, including marketing pitfalls.
Be it brands we love or hate, in our ad-filled world we are constantly submerged in marketing. Based on those vast personal experiences, it is only logical for everyone to start forming opinions on what good marketing is or is not.
While in most situations, this is totally harmless and, in some cases, even useful, this also has a dark side. Here are three of the biggest related marketing pitfalls that I’ve encountered during my career and how I limit their negative effects.
1. The Time Pitfall aka You Report to Everyone
It is not uncommon for the CMO to get a lot of company-wide airtime. Shareholder meetings, board meetings, department meetings, etc. In its essence, there is nothing wrong with team members wanting to know what is going on in marketing. But due to marketing being a hotly opinionated field, it can very quickly spin out of control.
For example, when the CTO demos a new piece of software, the questions are usually limited to what, why, and when. When the CMO demos the marketing plan for the same software, she faces an avalanche of in-depth questions. Why this color, font, logo, influencer, platform, music, media outlet, style, etc. While some of these details are valid for key stakeholders, the questions can pour in from any direction – from a receptionist to a CEO and everyone in between. This can create a huge time distraction that, if left unattended, can quickly climb as high as Mt. Everest.
The best way to mitigate this pitfall is to create special channels for input and feedback. It can be physical e.g. special idea/feedback sessions, digital e.g. virtual idea box, or a combination of both. Although funneling such info will not make this pitfall dragon disappear, it will help bend it to your will.
2. The Overwrite Pitfall aka Fixing What Already Works
Every CMO knows that when promoting a brand, product, or service, you need to detach your subjective feelings from the equation. It is not about what you like. It’s about what the brand, product, or service needs to reach its target audience and meet set goals.
But when it comes to key stakeholders you report to, it is not rare to face a force or resistance on the count of someone’s subjective preferences. Be it a logo, ad, or something else, these subjective preferences can end up as an assignment to start fixing something that already works. Often while the things that actually need to be fixed, are forced to take the bench.
In my experience the most effective way to tackle this pitfall is by giving your superior a choice of three – either explain, trust or let go. If your superior can’t explain the overwrite adequately, they will have a choice to either trust you or to let you go. While it may seem confrontational, this tactic has never ended with me being fired. Unless your superior is an egomaniac, they will appreciate you taking responsibility for your domain. They will either give a better explanation or let you do the job you were hired to do.
3. The Disruption Pitfall aka Let’s Decide Without the CMO
What a CMO doesn’t enjoy is arriving at work only to discover that the company has just written a big check for a “slam dunk” promotional package at a rally event, conference, or art show.
While in theory, it seems like a simple case of “it’s not my money, so…”. In practice, it is not that simple. To hit the needed bull’s-eye every marketing initiative demands time and energy. When in a rush, you need double the resources or triple if the link between the impromptu initiative and the company’s goals is weak. And all of it happens at the expense of the carefully calibrated strategic marketing plan that was already in place.
The counter to this pitfall is hard numbers. Every such spur-of-the-moment “adventure” comes down to factors of time and money. If you write the numbers down in black and white, it’s no longer what the “slam dunk” promotional package stands against. It’s the cold facts aka rationality over subjectivity. Although this will not always save you from having to go through with it. The hard numbers will be there to protect your arguments in case of negative effects on set KPIs.
As long as the field remains opinionated, and it will, these marketing pitfalls will never really go away. But the tips above are sure to guarantee a much smoother ride towards your marketing goals!
By: Eva Maimre
She is a full Stack Marketing Expert with proven experience in building corporate branding, developing, and executing growth hacking strategies. I have 14+ years of work experience in marketing, PR, and sales with public institutions, startups, top companies and brands in Estonia as well as in the world. Last 9 years I have provided marketing services as an independent contractor. My client portfolio includes companies in technology, B2B SaaS, fintech, automotive, health care and medical, HR & recruiting sectors.
Along with a mission to work with dedicated professionals I invest my time and funds in companies that change the way of thinking and doing things. I`m a shareholder in startups and publicly traded companies in mobility & logistics, technology, fintech, entertainment, design, finance, green energy, and real estate sectors.
More about me on LinkedIn.